Thousands Expected for OPD Memorial

CHP shutting down many freeways

Today's funeral for the four fallen police officers from Oakland is expected to draw 18,000 people to the Oracle Arena in Oakland.

They will be honored by dignitaries and family members.  The service will include bagpipes, military cannons and a 20-helicopter flyover.

Many people will be making their way there at the height of the morning commute.

The California Highway Patrol will also be shutting down freeways as the bodies of the four officers and their families make their way back to Oakland from their home towns.  Processions will come from Tracy, Danville, Concord and Castro Valley which will affect nearly every East Bay freeway.  Specifically is will impact Interstate 880,  Interstate 980, state Highway 238, Interstate 680, and  Interstate 580.

The officers who will be remembered are Sgt. Mark Dunakin, 40, of  Tracy; Sgt. Ervin Romans, 43, of Danville; Sgt. Daniel Sakai, 35 of Castro  Valley; and Officer John Hege, 41, of Concord.

Organizers say every single Oakland police officer will be able to attend the service thanks to volunteers from across the country stepping in to fulfill their duties.  They say street staffing will be at normal levels Friday.

Doors open at 7 a.m. The service is set to begin at 11 a.m. and expected to last at least two and a half hours.

Officer Paul Figueroa said the priority of the funeral is to honor the officers and their families, adding the families were a big part of the organizing of the funeral.  Many friends and family members will speak Friday and it is expected it will be covered on live television across the country.

The acting police chief, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, State Attorney General Jerry Brown, Sen. Barbara Boxer and Sen. Dianne Feinstein are among the speakers.

The families will also have a private time to meet together prior to the funeral inside the arena.

The four officers died at the hands of 26-year-old Lovelle Mixon of Oakland, according to police.

Mixon was an ex-felon wanted on a no-bail warrant for allegedly violating his parole by failing to meet with his parole officer.

He was also killed during his confrontation with police Saturday.
Oakland police officers aren't the only one who are having replacement do their duties on Friday.  All Oakland police dispatchers are also being given the chance to attend.

Dispatchers and 911 operators from across the state drove hundreds of miles to work in Oakland starting Thursday. 

They came from Los Angeles, Fresno, Eureka and Santa Clara. Many said as soon as they heard about the shootings, they called in to see how they could help.

LA Dispatcher Todd Austin said, "We are a tight knit family. And when something like this happens, everyone rallies together and we come to each others' needs. It's what we do."

Rachel bell, an Oakland police dispatcher said, "No one really understands what it's like to be a dispatcher and what's it's like to be on this side of the radio. And so it's just easier, I think, to be with our co-workers."

The dispatchers who took the initial 911 calls on Saturday and who sent response teams out to the scene have been off work more most of the week.

NBC Bay Area has learned one of those dispatchers was engaged to officer Hege, who taken off life support early Tuesday.
A fifth Oakland police officer was hit by a bullet in the shooting spree but survived.

He is finding solace by caring for the families of his slain colleagues, according to his attorney.
Sgt. Pat Gonzales, an 11-year veteran of the police department, was part of an "extremely close group," and lost not only four colleagues but also good friends he regularly socialized with, his attorney Harry Stern  said.

"Since the incident, almost every waking hour has been spent arranging (funeral) details for the other officers who died," Stern said.

Gonzales, who along with his wife is also caring for their 2-week-old baby, is a "consummate professional," Stern said.

"His fortitude is extraordinary. It was displayed both at the incident itself and the aftermath," Stern said. "Instead of seeking medical  attention for himself, he went to care for the family of his colleague."

Following the shootout at the apartment with wanted parolee Lovelle Mixon, 26, Stern said Gonzales drove himself to the hospital after one bullet grazed his protective helmet and a second penetrated his shoulder.  He then made contact with the wife of his fallen colleague, Stern said.

Stern said the road to recovery for Gonzales will be a long one.

"Time will only tell what the emotional effect will be on him," he  said.

Stern said he expects that Gonzales will attend Friday's public funeral.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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